CategoryReading of the Week

Reading of the Week: Can Psychotherapy Help Inpatients? Why did Michael Wilson Speak Out? Are Patients Experts?

From the Editor

Almost two decades ago, I was invited to a conference. The keynote speaker was Michael Wilson, the former federal Minister of Finance, who died earlier this month. I remember two things about this presentation: first, the audience was perfectly still – as Wilson spoke about his son’s suicide, no one shuffled her papers or chatted with his neighbour; second, I remember thinking how unusual this presentation was: he spoke about suicide at a time when suicide wasn’t discussed.

This week, we look at three selections, including an interview in which Wilson discusses his decision to speak out.

We also consider two other pieces: a new study on psychotherapy for inpatients with depression and an essay considering whether patients are experts.

pjimage-11Michael Wilson

Enjoy.

And I hope you will take a few minutes to complete our survey, aimed at improving the Readings.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GP5XXMB

DG

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Reading of the Week: Do E-Cigarettes Help with Smoking Cessation? The New NEJM Paper

From the Editor

Last week, I spoke to a patient who wanted passes off the ward so that he could smoke. When I suggested that we could help him reduce his nicotine use – and maybe even help him quit – he responded: “I’ve been smoking for 40 years. I’ll never quit.”

As much as the comment is disappointing, it is all too familiar. Nicotine is highly addictive, and it’s very challenging for our patients to quit.

What then to make of e-cigarettes? While they have been marketed well for smoking cessation, the evidence to date has been lacking. Do they offer a pathway to ending nicotine use? Or are e-cigarettes another type of nicotine product – addictive and ultimately unhelpful?

This week, we look at a paper just published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Queen Mary University of London’s Peter Hajek and his co-authors report on a “pragmatic, multicenter, individually randomized, controlled trial” comparing e-cigarettes to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). It’s the first adequately powered study on this topic. And this Very Big Paper comes with a Very Big Result: e-cigarettes offered a strong advantage over NRTs.

e-cigGreat ad, great product?

In this week’s Reading, we look at the Hayek et al. paper and consider e-cigarettes.

Have thoughts on the Readings of the Week? Please take this 15-question survey to make the Readings better: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GP5XXMB.

DG

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Reading of the Week: “It was scary and sad, but it was also a terrible sort of relief” – Dr. Danziger on Her Father’s Suicide

From the Editor

“By the time my father died, it wasn’t a surprise. It was scary and sad, but it was also a terrible sort of relief.”

So begins a short and honest essay by Dr. Phoebe Danziger. Our American colleague’s JAMA paper doesn’t require much of an introduction. She speaks about her father, his mental illness, and his death. She also touches on her own depression. And she speaks candidly of a childhood coloured by her father’s illness.

36yts2xd_400x400Phoebe Danziger

In this Reading, we consider Dr. Danziger’s essay.

DG

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Reading of the Week: How to Cope With a Patient’s Suicide? What to do When Nudges Don’t Work? Can Technology Bring Physicians Together?

From the Editor

“We talk about the toll suicide takes on families… We talk about the tragedy for the people who’ve died… What we don’t openly talk about is suicide’s toll on the doctors who have treated these patients.”

So writes Dr. Dinah Miller, a psychiatrist affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine. She discusses the death of a patient and the impact on her life.

Dr. Miller’s essay is one of three selections in this week’s Reading.

The papers are different and look at different issues. The one common thread: they were all published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

And they all ask important, thought-provoking questions:

How to cope with a patient’s suicide?

What to do when nudges don’t work?

Can technology bring physicians together?

p17Dr. Dinah Miller

Enjoy.

DG

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Reading of the Week: A Statin a Day Keeps the Doctor Away? The New Hayes et al. JAMA Psych Paper

From the Editor

Statins can help prevent MIs in people with high cholesterol. Can they also prevent psychiatric admissions for those with schizophrenia?

The question may seem odd, but there is evidence that statins can reduce symptoms in people with schizophrenia – though the evidence is light. That may not be as surprising as it seems: statins are anti-inflammatories, and a growing literature suggests neuro-inflammation is involved in major mental illness.

So should our patients receive medications like statins? The concept of repurposing common medications has gained attention.

This week, we look at a paper just published in JAMA Psychiatry. In their study, University College London’s Joseph F. Hayes and his co-authors consider the effect of statins, calcium channel blockers, and biguanides (such as metformin). Spoiler alert: they find that these medications reduce psychiatric hospital admissions and self-harm in people with serious mental illness.

statins-understandingthehypeStatins for schizophrenia?

In this Reading, we review the new paper about the not-so-new meds. We also take a quick look at another paper (on ketamine).

DG

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Reading of the Week: Is Cannabis Helpful? Can We Prevent Depression? What’s It Like to be Depressed & in Medicine?

From the Editor

In most Readings of the Week, a paper or essay is selected and then discussed. This week, we return to an older format, and look at several selections, offering an overview of a few topics.

The selections ask thought-provoking questions:

Is cannabis helpful?

Can we prevent depression?

What’s it like to be depressed – and in medicine?

cbd-oil-cannabis-leaf-1296x728

Cannabis: Hype or Help?

Enjoy.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Measurement-based Care – Big Idea, Not-So-Big Reality

From the Editor

Imagine the excitement if a new antidepressant came to market that boasted that it could achieve the symptom reduction of other antidepressants in about half the time, yet had no significant new side effects.

There is no new antidepressant, but there is a study to mull: In 2015, The American Journal of Psychiatry published a paper on measurement-based care for people with depression, and the patients in the measurement group achieved remission in about half the time compared to people seeing a psychiatrist without the guidance of measurement. Though the paper has limitations, it also suggests the incredible potential of measurement-based care.

The measuring tape isolated on white backgroundThe measuring tape isolated on white background

In the first selection, we consider a new review paper published in JAMA Psychiatry. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute’s Cara C. Lewis and her co-authors contemplate the potential of measurement-based care – and its reality (greatly underused). They make six points of observation and discussion before going on to propose an agenda.

In the second selection, we look at a paper by the University of Pennsylvania’s David W. Oslin and his co-authors who use survey data to consider the use of measurement-based care in a paper published by Psychiatric Services.

DG

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Reading of the Week: The Best of 2018

From the Editor

It’s an annual Reading of the Week tradition. At the end of each year, we pause, take stock, and consider the best selections of the past 12 months.

new-year-2018

2018 was an eventful year.

Start here: the federal government legalized the recreational use of cannabis.

We have heard so much about legalization over these past few years, that the event itself seemed almost anti-climactic. But remember: Canada is only the second country in the world to do this.

And 2018 has seen further evidence that stigma continues to fade: governments across the country have committed themselves to increased funding for mental health; more people spoke of their experiences with mental illness; more people talked about previously taboo topics, such as suicide.

And so with an eye on the future, let’s look back at the last year. In this final Reading of 2018, we look at a few memorable selections. Enjoy.

Please note that there will be no Reading for the next two weeks.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Smoking, Cognitive Performance, & Mental Illness: Quitting Matters – the New AJP Study

From the Editor

I don’t quite know when the shift occurred, but somewhere between the zeal of residency and the busyness of life as an attending physician, I stopped documenting nicotine use disorder. Indeed, working with severely ill patients, it was a given that they did smoke, and thus hardly worth mentioning. (Studies suggest that smoking is thrice as prevalent among those with schizophrenia compared to the general population.)

For many of our patients, tobacco use is a deadly problem – a major reason why people with severe, persistent mental illness have a life expectancy much shorter than ours.

This week, we consider a new paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry. The University of Academisch Medisch Centrum Universiteit van Amsterdam’s Dr. Jentien M. Vermeulen and her co-authors consider smoking in those with psychosis, their families and a control group, studying the impact on smoking on cognition – and also the impact of smoking cessation on cognition. Though work has been done in this area, the Vermenulen et al. paper is strong: they consider two comparison groups and follow people for six years. Spoiler alert: smoking cessation improved cognition in people with psychosis.

1304701062nosmokingButt out, think better?

In this Reading, we consider the paper, as well as the editorial by the University of Miami’s Philip D. Harvey, who raises some good points about what is – and isn’t – in the data.

We close the Reading with a couple of housekeeping items, including my new podcast (which may be of interest to Ontario doctors).

DG

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Reading of the Week: How to Improve Depression Treatment? Cuijpers in JAMA. Also, Kurdyak on Access & Goodman on Mental Health Screening for Docs

From the Editor

This week, we consider three provocative but thoughtful essays.

In the first selection, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s Pim Cuijpers – a highly published researcher in depression – wonders what needs to be done to improve depression outcomes. In this JAMA paper, he notes the importance of the task: “One estimate suggests that approximately 30% of patients with depressive disorders have a chronic course with limited response to treatment.”

ketamine-a-miracle-drug-for-depression-or-not-rm-1440x810Is ketamine a possible breakthrough for depression? Cuijpers ask.

In the second selection, the University of Toronto’s Dr. Paul Kurdyak considers how to address the shortage of psychiatrists – and notes, in this healthydebate.ca essay, that the problem is more complicated than some would suggest; he argues that the supply of psychiatrists across Ontario has little impact on access because of practice styles.

Finally, in the third selection, Columbia University’s Matthew L. Goldman and his co-authors note that doctors are screened for TB. They ask: “Should physicians also be screened for mental health conditions such as depression or burnout?”

DG

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